April 20, 2021 – Coast Guard Cutter Tampa’s crew offloaded approximately 5,500 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $94.6 million, in Miami, Tuesday, after interdicting a low profile vessel off the coast of Punta Gallinas, Colombia.
A maritime patrol flight spotted the vessel on April 9, and a law enforcement team from the cutter detained three suspects and discovered 87 bales of cocaine.
The vessel was destroyed as a hazard to navigation. The suspects are reported to be in good health.
“This event is the perfect example of numerous key partners unifying our efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations who look to exploit the maritime environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, Seventh District public affairs officer. “By strengthening partnerships, we counter threats together.”
The interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
On April 1, 2020, U.S. Southern Command began what was then known as Enhanced Counter Narcotics (CN) Operations in the Western Hemisphere to increase the disruption of drugs. This counter Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO)/CN operational approach, which has become enduring, supports our objectives to degrade the capabilities of TCOs and save lives. With our increased presence, we have bolstered support to U.S. and partner nation law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help expand target packages. Since then, our key partners have been involved in over 60% of drug disruptions since April 2020 (up from 50% in 2019).
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all suspects receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crew members were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19. There were no suspects in these cases reported to have any COVID-19 related symptoms.